American miler has a week to put his best foot forward
Outstanding American turf miler Kip Deville had his first gallop on Thursday and, while putting in a satisfactory piece of work, he clearly had some challenges with the clockwise direction of racing.
Kip Deville, ridden by personal valet Michelle Nevin, had a solo stroll wide out on the course proper. The grey moved off from the 1,400 metres and ran 1,200m in 1:17.9, the last 600m in 36.8 seconds.
In the home straight, the quality galloper opened up nicely to clock 23.4 seconds for his final 400m, with the ultimate furlong taking 11.7.
Like all American thoroughbreds, Kip Deville has been racing in the anti-clockwise direction as the tracks stateside offer little variety. The turf tracks are on the inside of the dirt tracks and therefore the radius of the turns is also very tight.
So a sweeping turn like Sha Tin, going the opposite direction, was completely new to Kip Deville and he tried several times to get onto his wrong leg, looking awkward in the process.
Trainer Richard Dutrow has one week to sort out the issue, as Kip Deville must do battle with Hong Kong Horse of the Year Good Ba Ba over 1,600m a week from tomorrow in the HK$16 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile.
The clockwise direction is not a concern for Danny O'Brien, trainer of Vase contender Douro Valley, despite the fact the seven-year-old hails from Melbourne (where they race left handed) and has been beaten in three runs going our direction.
'I don't think racing right handed will be a major issue,' O'Brien said. 'He's an adaptable horse and he's only had the three tries - the first two were OK and the most recent was on heavy ground in a strong race where he missed the start.'
Douro Valley has been a slow maturer. He did not win a stakes race until his six-year-old season, but has only been with O'Brien in the latter half of his career and has now blossomed into a legitimate Group One performer, having won the Yalumba Stakes (2,000m) in October.
Another Hong Kong Mile candidate, Egyptian Ra, turned in a solid piece of work on Thursday, on the all-weather track. The seven-year-old went smoothly over 1,000m in 1:05.75, the last 600m in 38.7 seconds and the final split in 12.5.
Egyptian Ra will head into the international showpiece off a peak performance, having led throughout to capture the Group Two International Mile Trial on November 23, becoming the second-fastest miler in the history of Sha Tin racecourse in the process.
Egyptian Ra has thrived since joining the Tony Cruz stable this year, winning two of his three starts and finishing a slightly unlucky second to Viva Pataca in the Sha Tin Trophy on October 26. Cruz maintains that if Egyptian Ra had been ridden as a front-runner in that race, instead of parking third on the fence, he would have added Viva Pataca to his list of scalps as well.
The time (seconds) Kip Deville clocked for his final 400 metres in his work: 23.4
Egyptian Ra turned in a solid workout, clocking (over 1,000m): 1:05.75